Jesus in the Gospels Leader Guide: Disciple - Second Generation Studies

Jesus in the Gospels Leader Guide: Disciple - Second Generation Studies

by Isaac M. Kikawada

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Abingdon Press
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Jesus in the Gospels

Leader Guide

By Nellie M. Moser

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2003 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-687-02602-9


Jesus in the Gospels

Coming Together (30 minutes)

• Gather with prayer.

• Sing or read the words of a hymn.

"Be Thou My Vision" or "At the Name of Jesus"

• Prepare to view video.

Host: Priscilla Pope-Levison, Professor of Theology, Seattle Pacific University.

Presenter: Leander E. Keck, Winkley Professor of Biblical Theology Emeritus, Yale University Divinity School, writer of the JESUS IN THE GOSPELS study manual.

Listen for the aim of the Gospels and how they achieve their aim.

• View Video Segment 1 Part I.

• Discuss after viewing:

How do the Gospels inform us about Jesus? What early Christian convictions about the meaning of Jesus were shared by the Gospel writers? What were some consequences of putting oral traditions into writing? How are we to read the Gospels?

Beginning With Moses and All the Prophets (45 minutes)

• The assumption that form follows function guides approach to study in JESUS IN THE GOSPELS. That is, how something is told reflects why it is told. With that idea in mind, work through the week's Scriptures one day at a time. Refer to notes and observations made during preparation.

Day 1—Work in groups of three or four. For each passage, identify the form the writer used to record the events, talk about what the choice of form indicates about how the passage was intended to be used, and talk about your response to the form and the tone of each passage.

Day 2—Invite one person from each group to shift to another group. Discuss these questions: What stood out for you in the Deuteronomy passages about what is to be remembered and why? What ways or forms did the writers of 2 Timothy and 1 Peter use to present what is to be remembered about Jesus and the purpose for remembering? Certain small words within this day's passages point to the reasoning within the passages. Scan each passage looking for use of the words so that, for, and so as connecting what is to be remembered and the purpose for the remembering. How did use of these words serve the writer's purpose?

Day 3—Form new groups of three or four to consider how the writer of these sermons took account of setting and audience in determining what he emphasized about Jesus. For each passage, review Scripture and daily notes to answer these questions: What is the setting? What is said about Jesus? How does the writer fashion what he says to fit the listeners? To what in their experience does the writer appeal?

Day 4—Work in two groups. First, review the meaning of tradition. Then, answer this question about each passage: What aspect (or aspects) of Jesus did the writer of this passage consider important enough to be handed on as tradition? After considering each passage discuss this question: What purposes were these traditions to fulfill?

Day 5—In the same two groups discuss this question: What is your understanding of what constitutes the gospel? Then identify the gospel in the passages from Hebrews and 1 John. Where and how is the gospel expressed in these passages?

• Now in the total group respond to this question: What insights, wisdom, guidance might we glean from study of the connection between how a story is told and why it is told that can help us hand on to others the gospel we have received?

Jesus in the Gospels (45 minutes)

• Clarify assumptions about the Gospels that underlie this study. In groups of three review the note "The Gospels" on study manual page 15. Consult the glossary on study manual pages 296-301 for definitions of Q, M, and L. Then discuss this question: How can knowing the kind of writing the Gospels are help us know what to expect from them? Next, clarify certain terms that will recur throughout the study: Canon, Gospels, Synoptics, Evangelists. Hear one another define the terms and the relationship among them.

• Take a few minutes now for persons to describe what they are feeling and what they are wondering as they undertake a study of Jesus in the Gospels. Recall that the study manual makes the point that the Gospels and the Jesus in the Gospels intend to do more than give answers to the questions we already have; both Jesus and the Gospels intend to question us. Talk about what this point says to the assumptions and expectations persons bring to the study.

• Distinguish the gospel from Gospels. Recall that people believed the gospel before they had Gospels. What is the gospel they believed? In the total group recall how the study manual defines and explains the gospel and puts the gospel message into words. Then hear Paul's core gospel message read aloud from 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 on study manual page 12. Invite members of the group to reflect silently on this question: How has the core gospel message that Paul received and handed on been handed on to me? Then respond to the question in pairs.

Do You Want to Become His Disciples, Too? (20 minutes)

• Call attention to the question, "What will we hand on to our children, and to their children?" on study manual page 8. Why is it so crucial to hand on the Gospels' witness to Jesus that we have received? What particular challenges face us in accomplishing this task?

• In pairs hear each other's written response to the question on study manual page 14, Who is the Jesus you bring with you to this study?

Going Forth (10 minutes)

• Preview Lesson 2.Hear prayer concerns.

• Pray in unison the prayer on study manual page 15.

• View Viedo Segment 1 Part II


When Words Became Events

Coming Together (30 minutes)

• Gather with prayer.

• Sing or read the words of a hymn.

"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" or "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus"

• Prepare to view video.

Presenter: Dale C. Allison, Jr., Errett M. Grable Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Listen for ways Matthew alludes to or draws from the Old Testament.

• View Video Segment 2 Part I.

• Discuss after viewing:

Why did Matthew include the genealogy? What is the significance of the names he included? Why does the outline of Matthew's first few chapters parallel the life of Moses in the Old Testament?

Beginning With Moses and All the Prophets (45 minutes)

• Explore the significance of the word fulfill in Matthew 1-2. Work in two groups to identify the Old Testament passages quoted in Matthew 1:23; 2:6; 2:15; 2:18; 2:23. Begin by looking up the five passages in the Old Testament books they come from. Read the headings of chapters surrounding the Old Testament passages, consult the annotations, and scan introductions to the books to get an idea of (1) why, (2) when, and (3) to whom the passages were written. What was the prophet's original purpose in speaking the words in each passage? What is Matthew's purpose in claiming that what was spoken by these prophets was fulfilled in Jesus? Finally, hear in the total group any words persons came up with to make the same point as the word fulfill.

• Study Matthew's use of the genealogy to place Jesus within Israel's history. Assign to each person in the group one of the following names in the genealogy: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, David, the wife of Uriah (Bathsheba), Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Joseph, Mary. Allow time for persons to recall (or look up in their Bibles) something about the names they were assigned. Then read aloud Matthew 1:1-17, pausing after speaking each assigned name. During the pause after each name, a person tells briefly what is known about the biblical figure named. At the end of this process discuss these questions: What do the figures in Matthew's genealogy represent in terms of Israel's history? Why are they important? And why is it important for Matthew that Jesus be connected to them? Conclude by talking about why you think Matthew included women in Jesus' genealogy.

• Matthew introduces as the "son of David" both Jesus (1:1) and Joseph (1:20). Review the readings for Day 5 and daily notes to identify the substance and meaning of God's promises to David. Then discuss this question: Why does Matthew make explicit the connection between Jesus the Messiah and God's promise to David in the Old Testament? Conclude by reading aloud Jeremiah 23:5-6.

When Words Became Events (45 minutes)

• From its beginning, Matthew's Gospel tells readers who Jesus is and points to his meaning. Working individually, scan Matthew 1-2, looking at the chapters as a whole to identify clues to the significance of Jesus. Hear in the total group what clues persons identified.

• The study manual suggests that to understand Matthew 1-2, we should put our own questions aside, at least to begin with. Rather, we should look for what the Gospel writer is telling us and for the kind of response expected of us. Discuss these questions: What questions do you have about the birth and infancy of Jesus that Matthew leaves unanswered? Why do you think Matthew does not answer those questions? What questions about Jesus does Matthew answer? What response do you think Matthew expects us to make to his account of Jesus' birth?

• In Chapters 1-2 Matthew identifies Jesus as Messiah and supports that claim by showing Jesus in relation to Israel, to Scripture, and to God. Review notes made on readings and on "Jesus' Identity Stated" on study manual pages 19-20 to talk about those three relationships. Work in three groups to locate passages from Matthew 1-2 that indicate Jesus' identity in relation to Israel (Group 1), Jesus' identity in relation to Scripture (Group 2), Jesus' identity in relation to God (Group 3). Have the groups come together after identifying the passages and respond to this question: In light of your work, why do you think Matthew states Jesus' identity as Messiah in terms of relationships?

• Recall these concluding remarks in "So Then" on study manual page 21: "Celebrating this birth is easy. Too easy, in fact, when we neglect the dark underside of this introduction to Jesus ..." What does Matthew accomplish by including the darker elements in the story of Jesus' birth and infancy? What more about Jesus' identity do we know because we know about these threats to Jesus so early in his story?

Do You Want to Become His Disciples, Too? (20 minutes)

• In this section the study manual states that the divine promise often is kept in ways we do not expect. Hear what persons cited as examples from their own experience. What makes trusting God's promises difficult when they are kept in ways we do not expect?

• Think back over the week's study of Matthew 1-2. What claims would you say Matthew makes about Jesus in this birth story?

• In pairs hear responses to the question on study manual page 22, What claim does the Jesus in Matthew's "birth story" make on you?

Going Forth (10 minutes)

• Preview Lesson 3. Hear prayer concerns.

• Pray in unison the prayer on study manual page 22.

• View Video Segment 2 Part II.


Celebrating Beginnings

Coming Together (30 minutes)

• Gather with prayer.

• Sing or read the words of a hymn. "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" or "Angels We Have Heard on High"

• Prepare to view video.

Presenter: Sarah J. Tanzer, Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, McCormick Theological Seminary.

Listen for clues in the major themes of Luke 1-2 to God's purpose in Jesus.

• View Video Segment 3 Part I.

• Discuss after viewing:

Identify the major themes in Luke 1-2. What do Luke's major themes suggest about God's purpose in Jesus? What does the idea that Chapters 1-2 are an introduction to Luke and Acts say about Luke's purpose in telling the story of Jesus' birth?

Beginning With Moses and All the Prophets (45 minutes)

• Explore Luke's distinctive angle of vision on the birth and infancy of Jesus. First, scan Luke 1-2 to identify where the tone of the passage is joyful. What does Luke's emphasis on the celebration accompanying Jesus' birth say about who Jesus is in Luke's Gospel? What would the church miss in its observance of Advent and Christmas without Luke 1-2?

• Trace Luke's use of the word favor, favored, or favorably in Chapters 1-2, using the New Revised Standard Version. Consult other translations to compare how those ideas are expressed. Then see how the word favor is used in selected Old Testament passages (using the NRSV): Genesis 6:8; Exodus 34:9; Ruth 2:10; 1 Samuel 1:18. What does it mean for the angel to call Mary "favored"? What does it mean to say "God favors"? What do you think Luke is trying to say in using those words so frequently to tell the birth story of Jesus?

• Focus on Luke's distinctive use of the Old Testament in telling the stories of the births of John and Jesus.

(1) Referring to notes made on Day 2 readings, talk about the similarities between the story of Samuel and Luke's account of the births of John and Jesus. Hear what similarities persons noted among the song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10), the Magnificat (Luke 1:4655), and the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79). What is Luke saying about Jesus by showing a connection between Hannah's prayer and the prayers of Mary and Zechariah? How is the theme of reversal expressed in the three prayers? And why is that theme part of Luke's story of Jesus' birth?

(2) Scan the Day 3 readings from Isaiah and refer to daily notes to identify the word pictures the prophet used to convey God's promise of restoration.

How might these Scriptures have nurtured Simeon's and Anna's hopes for the salvation of Israel? How might the Scriptures have informed Luke's understanding of the meaning of the births of John and Jesus?

• In groups of three compare the annunciation stories of John and Jesus in Luke 1-2. Using GC 3-1 talk about similarities in the two stories. How does Luke make clear the roles of John and Jesus by telling about their births in similar ways? Compare 1:59 and 2:21. Why was it important for Luke to situate John and Jesus in devout Jewish life?

Celebrating Beginnings (45 minutes)

• Compare aspects of Luke's account of Jesus' birth to Matthew's account, using GC 3-G. Begin by forming two groups: Group 1 to compare Matthew 1 and Luke 1; Group 2 to compare Matthew 2 and Luke 2. (1) First, have groups scan their assigned chapters in GC 3-G, highlighting and making notes with these questions in mind: Who are the people each Gospel writer includes in the story of Jesus' birth? Why are they important for understanding who Jesus is? Each Gospel writer emphasizes certain people associated with Jesus. How does that emphasis contribute to each Gospel's distinctive message about Jesus? What do you make of each Gospel's portrayal of Joseph and Mary? (2) After both groups have completed the previous discussion, have them once again scan their assigned chapters in GC 3-G, highlighting and making notes with these questions in mind: How do dreams in Matthew and the Holy Spirit in Luke function in the telling of Jesus' birth? What are similarities and differences in their functions?

(3) Now hear in the total group what persons learned about each Gospel writer's distinctive telling of Jesus' birth. How does each Gospel convey what the writer considers is important about Jesus?

• Talk about the importance of the Temple in Luke. What is Luke's purpose in giving the Temple a prominent place in the story of Jesus' birth? Then read Luke 2:22-24, 39-41. Now discuss this question: By emphasizing the Temple and the Jewish piety of Mary and Joseph in Chapters 1-2, what does Luke want his readers to understand about Jesus?

• Call attention to the statement under "So Then" on study manual page 30 that Matthew and Luke do not narrate Jesus' birth at all. How are Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 both more than and less than "birth stories"?


Excerpted from Jesus in the Gospels by Nellie M. Moser. Copyright © 2003 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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